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Stop Multitasking To Reduce Stress

Linda-Ann Stewart

Most people are overwhelmed by the amount of distractions in their lives. When you're trying to work, you're interrupted by phone calls, texts, or a problem suddenly needing an immediate solution or decision. All of this diverts your attention and keeps you from focusing on one thing at a time.

You're trying to multi-task to be more efficient and you're accomplishing exactly the opposite. Your attention is split between all of the distractions, and nothing gets your best effort. So everything suffers from a lack of your full capabilities.

Unfortunately, your fast-paced lifestyle promotes stress and anxiety. This engages the Fight or Flight mechanism that causes you to be in survival mode. Everything that happens is then considered to be a threat. You can't keep things in their proper perspective.

For instance, let's say you're expecting a busy day at work. In the morning, you take the trash bag out of the trashcan and the bag breaks. Now you have to clean it up before you can leave. On the freeway, you're caught in an unexpected traffic jam and get to work late.

You'd planned to have plenty of time to print out a report for a meeting. But because of the morning's delays, you're hurrying to get it done. The printer jams and you're ready to throw it through the window. Due to the accumulated frustrations, an insignificant problem (the printer) has been blown up out of proportion. It takes on monumental importance, when it actually may simply take a couple of minutes to fix.

When your mental reserves are completely used up and you're in survival mode, stress monopolizes resources in the brain. It's like a huge program that consumes all the available memory in a computer. There's nothing left over to make rational decisions.

Being stressed and in overwhelm means that you can't think straight, be creative, resourceful, or plan effectively. You're reacting from your past experience and conditioning and can't choose a different response.

However, when you're able to focus on one thing at a time, it allows access to more mental and emotional resources. For example, driving the car without talking on the phone or texting is safer and less stressful than dealing with those distractions. Working on a project without interruptions means you're able to bring all of your creativity to it.

Being fully engaged in a conversation means you'll hear what the other person is saying and be able to respond appropriately. If you have to reply to an upsetting email, having the time and space to rationally choose what to say is better than reflexively shooting out a nasty response.

When you learn to be more mindful and more present in your life, you're able to engage much more of the brain's creativity, abilities, perspective, problem solving, and flexibility.

Take some time to turn off all the technology in your life and shut out the distractions. Focus the light of your attention on one task. Immerse yourself in it.

If it's washing the dishes, don't watch TV at the same time or focus on hating the chore. Just do it without giving it much emotional energy or distraction. Consider it time for your mind to recharge without having to think ahead. Just be. The same technique can be used for a project at work, or a task at home.

Some other ways you can recharge your mental resources:
  1. Calm your mind down. Meditate or use self-hypnosis to create a quiet place and allow your mind to recharge its resources. Either of these processes is a practice in learning to focus.
  2. Get some exercise. This can discharge some of the residue from stress or anxiety. It's also great for problem solving. If I get stuck when I'm writing an article, taking a walk almost always stimulates a breakthrough.
  3. Practice mindfulness. No multi-tasking. Stick to one activity or task at a time. Turn off the phone, ignore email, and put a "Do not disturb" sign on your door.
  4. Positive self-talk. If you need help to stay focused, be your own coach. Talk yourself through the steps.
  5. Just "Stop." When you get too stressed, say "stop" and halt what you're doing. Take a few deep breaths. This halts your runaway thinking and calms your nervous system down.
Instead of tying up so much of your resources in your day-to-day scramble, learn to be more focused and mindful. This allows you to release more of the talents and creativity that are innate within you.

Copyright © 2009-2021 Linda Ann Stewart
All Rights Reserved

As a vision strategist, hypnotherapist, and speaker, Linda-Ann Stewart helps women entrepreneurs who feel stuck, immobilized and overwhelmed to gain clarity, focus, and get back in control so they're able to accelerate to the next level of their business. Watch her FREE training video on Set Your Course to Success: 4 steps to strategically achieve your goals with confidence and ease. Register for the video and accompanying action planning guide at You can contact her at or 928-600-0452.

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